Friday, February 06, 2009

america's first archaeological subdivision

INDIAN CAMP RANCH is a 1200 acre tract of land 2 miles due west of the town of CORTEZ in the southwest corner of Colorado. It is divided into 32 parcels, each a little over 35 acres in size.

What is so unique about our Development is that we have over 210 Anasazi sites in excess of 700 years old. Montezuma County, where we are located, has an estimated 80,000 such sites but our uniqueness comes from not only the fact that we have the highest recorded site density in the state of Colorado but that we recognize the importance of protecting these sites for future generations. More about this later but the basics are these:

Every parcel contains from one to seventeen sites and every owner may excavate his or her sites when he or she agrees to the following guidelines:
  1. Excavate only under the guidance of an approved archaeologist

  2. Protect the finished dig in an open and protected condition

  3. Write an archaeological report upon completion

  4. Agree to donate all artifacts to the Indian Camp Ranch Museum upon their death

From the Indian Camp Ranch website, "America's First Archaeological Subdivision".

I poked around a little online to try to uncover how far Indian Camp Ranch's policies diverge from Colorado State and Federal Laws, because I suspect that the policy of their subdivision is simply state law delivered as marketing spin.

In Colorado, according to the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers:

Anyone who knowingly disturbs an unmarked human burial commits a Class 1 misdemeanor; any person who has knowledge that an unmarked human burial is being unlawfully disturbed and fails to notify the local law enforcement official commits a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Which is why, of course, you'd want to call in an archaeologist and proceed according to best practices if you stumbled across a possible archaeological site on any tract of land, regardless of whether it was within the boundaries of Indian Camp Ranch.

It appears that it's legal to collect arrowheads on private land, but it's unclear what the explicit considerations regarding the excavation of artifacts on private land are, when they are not associated with human burials. (I suspect there's more information out there -- I'm just short on time to dig around for it.) (Yes, of course, that pun was intended.)

Also important to keep in mind, per the Colorado Historical Society Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation: What to do when you find those old dinosaur bones?

Contact a paleontologist. Stat.

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